Reviews - Fringe 2009

The Portrait

By Tom Mackan
Published July 19, 2009

Written, produced and directed by Maxie Liberman
Featuring Mackenzie Glachan, Madison Glachan, Steven Andrews, Kyla McCall, Taylor Yanke, David Paul

Dear readers, you go through a hardly noticeable doorway between a coffee shop and the LCBO store in Jackson Square. You leave behind the everyday bustle of urban mall life. You are, for the all the world, at the bottom of the Grand Staircase in the long-sunken Titanic.

It soars way up into the stripped, naked skeleton of the once grand concourse. (Okay, it's the deserted Bank of Montreal site, but stay with me here.) The light is weak, filtered through the dust of age and abandonment.

There are but a few of us huddling along, trying not to be too far away from each other. We have our tiny cardboard tickets. At the top we are miniaturized in the vast space that was once a hub of finely dressed citizens, the only evidence they might once have existed in the piles of indistinct rubble.

The massive door of a vault, over a metre thick, stands open, the treasures it once protected long gone. We make our way to a curtained area, a makeshift theatre. A slim young man tears our ticket and admits us. We scatter into the folding chairs set out for us. We wait. The lights go down.

The Portrait is a gem out of time, out of place, seeming left behind by the departing worthies who once carried on their lives and commerce here. It is a melodrama, a Gothic retro story in period rhyming verse yet written by a very much alive and modern 19 year-old whose admiring family are here with us, with bunches of daisies to mark the occasion.

It is played with ingenuous charm and simple staging by as sincere and committed a group as there is anywhere in this year's Fringe Festival. Clearly told in well-directed movement by its creator, using the traditional minimalism of Fringe renown, we are unashamedly taken back to the theatre we'd thought had sunk with the big liners of over a hundred years ago.

There is no reason that this production need not be here. It is theatre of another time and holds it own. Its success is in its innocence. There is not a hint of the disingenuous, which would be fatal to it.

Enjoy the lovely articulation from Mackenzie Glachan in the role of a chorus who guides us through the action. Madison Glachan dramatically captures the angst of the threatened victim. Wonderful sustained classic performance in the 19th century style from Steven Andrews as the haunted man in the portrait, and well worth the price of admission is that of Kyla McCall as a villainess, that indispensable character of the genre.

Do leave your urban ironic mockery at the door for this show, and give it the warm appreciation it deserves.


Tom Mackan is Publisher and editor of NEWZY BITZ, an online Community Theatre newsletter in the GHA, with over 200 subscribers. He is a Member of the Board, Theatre Burlington; an actor and director in GHA Community Theatre for fifty years; winner of over 25 awards and citations in the Western Ontario region and beyond; recipient of 2007 City of Hamilton Arts Award (Theatre); a Graduate of Canadian Theatre School (Sterndale Bennett) Toronto, 1955; and a retired teacher of English and Drama in public and private schools in the GHA and abroad.

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By Theresa (registered) - website | Posted July 22, 2009 at 23:02:52

Yes, this was the one :) xx Brilliant review for a brilliant performance! Loved the show and think that Maxie Liberman is an inspirational and very talented writer.

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